Custom’s Detector Dog Unit boosted by 52 new teams

SARS Customs North West Detector Dog Unit handlers. [SARS]

SARS Customs North West Detector Dog Unit handlers. [SARS]

Fifty two dogs and handlers were trained and deployed in the first phase of the SARS Customs Detector Dog Unit’s (DDU) capacity building programme. Trainees were for units from Limpopo, North West and Mpumulanga, Or Tambo International Airport and Durban. “This figure includes new dog handlers, replacement of old or sick dogs and refresher training of dogs not up to the required working standard, explained Hugo Taljaard, the senior manager of Custom’s Detector Dog Unit.

There are now 90 regionally based detector dogs and handlers deployed in the country. Most dogs are dual trained to detect different substances and /or goods. They have the capacity to detect the following substances/goods hidden in vehicles, vessels, aircraft, cargo, containers, mail, rail, luggage and buildings:

  • Explosives, firearms and ammunition
  • Narcotics (Mandrax, heroin, crystal meth, cocaine, cannabis and Ecstasy)
  • Endangered species (Rhino horn, ivory, wet / dry abalone, crayfish and lion bones)
  • Currency
  • DVDs
  • Copper wire
  • Tobacco products
  • Cell phones.

At the end of phase 1, which ran from April 2013 to January 2014, a ceremony was held in Zeerust to hand out certificates to the members of the newly-formed North West Detector Dog Unit.

“The commitment, passion and drive of the trainees must be acknowledged as this contributed to the successful training of the new handlers and dogs. The teams performed extremely well, achieving pass rates ranging from between 92% to 99.80% and this could only be achieved with positive team work and the drive to go the extra mile and make a difference. The teams proved their commitment in playing an impactful role in the prevention of smuggling,” Hugo said.

The cooperation between different government agencies also played a major role in the successful training and operational deployment of the Customs dogs and handlers during Phase 1 and will continue during Phase 2 and 3, he added.

Phase 2 of the programme is planned to get underway on 7 April 2014 with the establishment of three new units – at Port Elizabeth, Ladybrand and Ermelo.

The DDU has been a major success story for SARS in recent years, providing expert training to several Customs and Border agencies in the region. The topic has also invoked significant interest amongst readers and followers of this blog. It needs to be stressed, however, that the recruitment and deployment of dog trainers in SARS is currently all achieved through training and up-skilling of officers within the organisation. No external recruitment drives have occurred. The nature and extent of Customs Modernisation places SARS in the fortunate position of being able to redeploy staff to specialised roles such as the DDU.

Source: SARS



  1. i’m currently a police officer n I would like to join u guys,i am stationed at thaba nchu 60km to maseru border


  2. I am a former SAPS narcotics K9 handler at Special Duties Unit and currently working at the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (HAWKS). I am interested in becoming part of the SARS K9 Team. Thank you.


  3. I am very happy to read this page. As a passionate dog handler I would like to join your side because u are very competitive. I am working in the Airforce of Zimbabwe and was currently attached in the Zimbabwe revenue authority for two years. I am holding the below listed certificates : academic certificate -o level,basic dog handling certificate, junior dog instructors certificate and drug detection certificate. 8 years working experience with dogs.



  4. Im Nathen i have work in the Military k9 unit (Attack and Detection.)I work for two years in the military K9 unit. I was also part of training Attack k9 and Detection k9. I also work for 6 months for K9 corservation were i was incharge of k9 training and decetion.
    Im currently back working in the military k9 protection.
    I have a big love for Dog and my Heart is buring too came and work for you guys .
    Im willing too work in any location. Im can start ASAP.
    061 9292 825.


  5. If the need every arises for a highly qualified Explosive Dog Handler who has many years of experience both locally with the South African Police and Internationally with Private Security Companies contact Tommy Chellew on 0767068517. Based in Port Elizabeth. Available for contract or permanent work.


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